I’d like to introduce a senior member of our team, Gretchen Burnham. She wears many hats here, including consulting with FSFP’s clients, being our delivery excellence lead and representing our company at industry events. Most recently, Gretchen launched a DATAVERSITY training course focused on data catalog optimization, partnering with Becky Lyons.
Gretchen is a Certified Data Management Professional — and you can learn more about her CDMP certification and the accrediting organization, the Data Management Association (DAMA), here.
Have I piqued your interest? Read on to learn more about Gretchen.
As a principal consultant, what’s your typical day like?
It’s a mix of working directly with clients and collaborating with the FSFP team on behalf of my clients. I also manage people and oversee other consultants. When needed, I do additional internal work for FSFP, working on methodology standards and supporting other consultants in their roles.
How would you explain data governance to a kid/grandparent?
Data governance is about making sure organizations manage their data as well as they manage their money.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned throughout my career with people struggling with the same problems I’ve encountered. Hopefully, I can give them ideas about how to solve those problems and make their work life a little bit easier.
What was your first job?
I worked in a fabric store. My first unpaid job was a volunteer gig as a lab assistant in an archaeology laboratory.
What prepared you most for a career in consulting/data governance/data management?
Two things: One is the real-world experience of being in the trenches working with data. The other is the minor in English from my bachelor’s degree. I had to do a lot of writing for that part of my degree and honing my ability to articulate conceptual ideas has been incredibly valuable.
How did you find out about the job opening at FSFP?
I saw Kelle O’Neal speak at a conference in Minnesota for a DAMA Day event. How she spoke about data governance aligned with how I think about it. Then, I started meeting more people from FSFP, and everyone was so warm and genuine. It made this company feel like a very comfortable place for me to go.
Describe your consulting style.
Collaborative and empathetic. I’m here so my clients can be successful. I’m always seeking to validate that the things we talk about make real sense for clients and feel practical and achievable.
Which FIRST (focus, integrity, resourcefulness, skillfulness, teamwork) value do you resonate with the most and why?
Skillfulness. We must know what we’re doing and have a strong perspective on our work. We’re not making it up as we go along each time. We come from a place of experience and knowledge and bring that to our clients.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Play to your strengths. I can achieve more if I focus on the things I’m good at and continue to hone those skills versus trying to become good at everything.
What advice would you give to someone considering a job in data management/governance?
I would advise them to consider whether they have an affinity for data. Do they enjoy working with data? Does it make sense to them? If so, then that’s fantastic. If data seems mysterious and difficult, that’s hard to overcome.
What’s your best work-from-home tip?
I have a space dedicated to working from home with a door that closes me off from the rest of the house, which allows me to focus. It’s helpful to have this segmented space, so I’m not distracted. The other thing I recommend is a sit-stand desk because it’s nice to be able to stand up sometimes while you work.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a creative. I do silversmithing, vitreous enamel, sewing and other textile arts.
What do you see as the future of data?
Data use is going to continue to accelerate, and the expectations for interoperability are going to keep increasing at the same time. In Europe, there is an emphasis on avoiding the over-collection of data and the privacy of data. In the U.S., data is shared widely and connected. At some point, there will have to be a reckoning between those perspectives.
I hope you enjoyed the latest installment in our Meet the Team Series. Make sure to check out the rest of the articles to learn more about the people who make up FSFP. To learn more about Gretchen, check out her profile in our Women in Information Management series.